Sorin Gherguț is a quiet individual, so quiet it's hard to find ANYTHING about him on the net--in passing you see that his debut volume won the national poetry prize, or that he's been invited to attend various international events, or that he's randomly admired by various poetry lovers here and there, but not much more (here's a little blurb). I get a sense that that's exactly how he wants it. I've known him since high school--we were both part of a (relatively) well-known writing club for teenagers, "Săgetatorul" (Sagittarius); we were also colleagues at the University of Bucharest. It was hard sometimes to figure out whether he was shy, reserved, or standoffish; while I never figured that out (we were not really that close), I never doubted two things about him: 1) he was wicked smart; 2) he was a true poet.
(With regards to no. 2: I think there are a lot of people who write poetry, even decent poetry, and/or get published and become known as "poets"; but only a small fraction of those are true poets. True poets see and "transliterate" the world in a way that jolts your mind and alters your sense of reality, even if for just a few seconds. The rest are either merely nice or obnoxious.)
It's perhaps ironic, then, that the poem I chose starts by stating that he is not--alas!--a poet. I got this poem here, so I make no representation as to its accuracy. The site I linked to mentions that the poem was initially published in an anthology edited by Mircea Cărtărescu - Şase pre-texte pentru un volum colectiv; Tablou de familie ("Six pre-texts for a collective volume; Family Portrait"), Leka-Brîncuş Publishing House, 1995; and that the poem was read in Berlin at the "Long night of Romanian Poetry" and was published in the brochure for the event.
pică & pleacăsemăn cu toţi poeţii acestei lumi
dar eu nu sînt - vai, nu sînt - poet.
scriu ca să am ce-i arăta unui fiu
scriu de frică
scriu ca să am ce arăta la o fiică
şi mai tîrziu
cînd lampa se strică
şi locul se face sălciu
şi inima mică
şi vai, cum mă fac eu că ştiu.
şi nu ştiu nimică!
doresc să scriu poemul în care la sfîrşit
să vină cineva cu un cuţit
visez să scriu poemele din care
să iasă cineva şi să omoare
într-o lume-n care greu mi-e să rezist
să rămîn ce-am fost: intertextualist
greu, cum este sa fii geniu
la sfîrşit de mileniu
şi mai tîrziu
cînd lampa se face mai mică
şi corpul zglobiu
şi gîndul mai viu
scriu numai un poem din care pică
sălbatică, dar dulce, o gagică
scriu numai un poem din care vine
păşind uşor, dar sigur, către mine
mai scriu apoi un vers. Din care pleacă
mai tristă, mai urîtă, mai săracă
drops & departsI resemble all the poets of this world
except I’m not—alas I’m not—a poet.
I write so I have something to show to a son
I write from fear
I write so I can show to a daughter dear.
and later on
when the lamp stalls
and the place grows wan
and the heart small
and alas, how I pretend that I know.
and I know nothing at all!
I wish to write the poem in which, at the end,
somebody’s knife would descend
I dream of writing poems that spill
somebody who comes out to kill.
In a world in which it’s tough for me to resist
to stay what I was: intertextualist
hard, as it is, to be a genius
at the end of the millenius
and later on
when the lamp grows small
and the body sprightly
and the mind more lively
I write just a poem from which there drops,
savagely, but sweetly, a broad,
I write just a poem from which she
steps lightly but surely towards me.
then I write just one verse. From which she’d depart,
poorer and uglier, with a heavy heart.
Let me get one linguistic treason off my chest right now, since it's pretty bad: I rhymed "genius" with "millenius" - and the latter is obviously not a word. BUT, since the tone of the poem is jocular and he sometimes takes liberties with word forms (for example, using the antiquated form "nimică" instead of "nimic" partly because it rhymes/it's ironic) - I committed a linguistic license for the sake of the rhyme. Now, I claim to know English very well, but I haven't reached the ultimate level of confidence when I think this kind of wordplay is ok. I'll let you know when I do.
Here are the other linguistic crimes I've committed:
- "pică şi pleacă" is, literally, "drops/falls and leaves" -- BUT "leaves" was hard to rhyme here, and it didn't preserve the alliteration of the original--so "drops and departs" preserves some of the play on consonants, not to mention the number of syllables and rhythm of the original;
- I've added "dear" after "daughter" for the sake of the rhyme; it does not appear in the original;
- "lampa se strică" literally means "the lamp breaks"--I'm hoping "stalls" (which almost rhymes with "small" and "at all" - both required rhymes) - carries some of the original meaning
- "locul se face sălciu" - literally means "the place becomes brackish." "Wan" rhymes; and yes, a place cannot really be "wan," but it can't be "brackish" either, so there.
- I've added "spill" and "descend" in the following stanza for--you guessed it!--the rhyme.
- at the end: "pleacă" (leaves/departs) rhymes with "săracă" (poor[er]); I've changed the order of words in the last stanza to fit the rhyme, and I've interpreted "tristă" (sad) as "heavy-hearted."
Now, where can I find his first volume? I tried to get it when I was in Romania, but I think it's out of print. Any suggestions are welcome!